JUAN RODRIGO DE CASTEL-BRANCO (surnamed Amatus Lusitanus):


Portuguese physician; born at Castel-Branco, Portugal, in 1511;died at Salonica in 1568. He was a descendant of a Marano family called Ḥabib (= Amatus), and was brought up in the Jewish faith. After having graduated with honors as M.D. from the University of Salamanca, he left his native country in fear of the Inquisition. He went to Antwerp for a time and then traveled through Holland and France, finally settling in Italy. His reputation as one of the most skilful physicians of his time preceded him there, and during his short sojourn at Venice, where he came in contact with the physician and philosopher Jacob Mantino, he attended the niece of Pope Julius III. and other distinguished personages.

In 1546 Juan was in Ferrara, delivering lectures on anatomy and medicinal plants. At one of his lectures he dissected twelve cadavers—a great innovation at that time—in the presence of many scholars, among whom was the anatomist Jean Baptiste Cananus, who through his experience on this occasion discovered the function of the valves in the circulation of the blood. During his sojourn in Ferrara, which lasted for six years, Amatus Lusitanus received an invitation from the King of Poland to remove to that country, which he declined, preferring to settle in Ancona, where religious tolerance existed.

Meanwhile his reputation grew higher and higher. Jacoba del Monte, sister of Pope Julius III., was one of his patients; and he prescribed also for Julius himself, to whose sick-bed he was later summoned.

With the accession of Paul IV., Amatus underwent all the sufferings which the Maranos of Ancona had to endure from this pope. He took refuge in Pesaro, leaving behind him all his possessions, including several manuscript works, the loss of which he greatly deplored. One of these manuscripts, however, the fifth part of his "Centuriæ," was later restored to him and published. During his sojourn at Pesaro he received an invitation from the municipality of Ragusa to settle there. This he accepted, but after staying for some months he left the city for Salonica, where he openly professed the Jewish faith.

Amatus enriched medical literature with several valuable works which for a long time enjoyed the highest reputation. Among these the most important was his "Centuriæ," in which he published accounts of his cases and their treatment. This work, in seven volumes, entitled "Curationum Medicinalium Centuriæ Septem," passed through a number of editions (Florence, 1551; Venice, 1552, 1557, 1560, 1653; Basel, 1556; Leyden, 1560, 1570; Paris, 1620; Bordeaux, 1620; Barcelona, 1628). His other works were: "Enegemata in Duos Priores Dioscoridis de Arte Medica Libros," Antwerp, 1536; "Commentatio de Introitu Medici ad Ægrotantem," Venice, 1557; "De Crisi et Diebus Decretoriis," ib. 1557; "In Dioscoridis Anazarbei de Medica Materia Libros Quinque," ib. 1557; Leyden, 1558; "Enarrationes Eruditissimæ," Venice, 1553; "La Historia de Eutropio" (Eutropius translated into Spanish); commentary on the first book of Avicenna's Canon, which, as he relates in the preface to the seventh "Centuria," he lost among his possessions at Ancona.

  • Wolf, Bibl. Hebr. i. 200;
  • Carmoly, in Revue Orientale, ii. 200;
  • Ernest David, in Archives Israélites, 1880;
  • Allg. Zeit. des Jud. 1880, pp. 668, 684, 749;
  • Steinschneider, Hebr. Uebers. p. 686;
  • Vogelstein and Rieger, Gesch. der Juden in Rom, ii. 256.
D. I. Br.
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